Colombia: soldiers convicted in “false positives” scandal

A judge sentenced 15 members of Colombia’s military to between four and 30 years in prison for killing two civilians they tried to disguise as guerillas killed in combat, prosecutors said Aug. 1. An officer, three of his subordinates and six rank-and-file troops were found to have overseen or participated in the plot to kill the two young men in Medellín in May 2006. Five other troops were found to have covered up details in the case, for which they were sentenced to four years. The young men were restaurant workers who went missing on their way home from work; their bodies turned up the following day, labelled as killed in combat by an infantry battalion. The case was one of the highest profile of a series of so-called “false positive” scandals. (AFP, Aug. 1)

Colombia’s army has meanwhile asked Colombians to forget about the extrajudicial executions. “The ‘false positive’ cases are part of the past, we have to look ahead. We have to value what the army achieved in matters of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and that soldiers give their lives for the welfare of our country,” General Carlos Suarez said during the launch of the armed forces media campaign “Heroes do exist in Colombia.”

The campaign includes military-produced spots to appear as commercials in the broadcast media. More than a thousand members of the armed forces are suspected of having murdered civilians in the scandal. (Colombia Reports, July 15)

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